Workers’ compensation lawyer Scott Schulman explains how an injured worker may seek a second medical opinion during their workers’ compensation claim.
Petrillo: In fact, I’ve heard of cases where the worker’s comp doctor says someone needs a surgery and the worker’s comp carrier will then send you on their own for a second opinion to a doctor that happens to do a lot of worker’s comp work and who will then say you don’t need the surgery. What do you do in that kind of a case?
Schulman: I have that case circumstance many times, and when I get that in or when the client calls me up and tells me, and I read the report from both the doctors, I sit back and I chuckle and smile and say, “Okay, they want to play that way. We’re going to get them.” And what I do is I file the motion for medical and temporary disability benefits, and the law is clearly on our side, on the injured worker’s side, that the treating doctor recommends a test, a surgery, a procedure or therapy needs to be done and the second opinion doctor says, “No it doesn’t.” The insurance company gets the benefit of choosing their doctor and their medical provider. Well, when their doctor or medical provider says that something needs to be done, they can’t then go around and get a second hatchet doctor to cut them off and say that’s not possible because they can’t get the benefits at both ends.
Petrillo: And yet-
Schulman: If they’re going to choose the doctor, they’re going to have to live by the recommendations. And I’ve been successful.
Petrillo: And yet it seems that time, after time after time, that’s exactly what the insurance companies do. Why do you think they do that?
Schulman: Oh, they do it because they think that they’re going to ultimately save money in the long run. They think that nine out of 10 times, people may not even have a lawyer may not know their rights. People will just get fed up with the system and walk away and say, “Oh forget it. I don’t need it anyway.”
But oftentimes when that happens to somebody and they go to the second opinion and the second opinion doctor says, “You don’t need this,” and worker’s comp tells them that will drive them to get an attorney, and that’s almost the insurance company is shooting themselves on the foot because if they just listened to the initial doctor and got what was the appropriate treatment,
Schulman: Generally the person would not go and get a lawyer. But I can’t tell you how many times that drives the injured worker to go get a lawyer.
Schulman: Fortunately they come to me.
Petrillo: It’s got to pretty upsetting.
Schulman: Yeah. It irritates them that they’re not getting the proper treatment that they need to get to enable them to get better, to get back to work. And it irritates me personally that they’re getting stepped on. And we go to court and they get ultimately what needs to be done.
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